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Postgraduate Research

We offer 2 programmes within the department, a 3-year and 4-year programme. Our programmes are funded from many sources including the Research Councils (EPSRC, BBRSC, NERC and MRC), Charities, the European Community, US Government sources and industry in the UK, Europe and the USA.

PhD Chemistry (3-year)

PhD Chemistry

The 3-year Chemistry PhD programme is focused on a major piece of original research. You will study under the direct supervision of a member of staff, who is an expert in his or her area of specialisation. The department offers a broad range of research themes across physical, organic, inorganic and computational chemistry, specific departmental strengths are listed under research areas below.

Read more on the Chemistry PhD programme 

Wellcome Trust Interdisciplinary Programme in Structural, Computational and Chemical Biology (4-year)

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This unique programme offers opportunities to study at UCL, Birkbeck College and MRC-NIMR. Students are exposed to a wide range of training in protein structure, chemical biology and the computational tools necessary to address important problems in biomedicine.

Read more on the SCCB programme

 

A 3-year PhD studentship in femtosecond time-resolved spectroscopy of bioluminescence emitters  (D/L: 02/06/2021)

Supervisor: Professor Helen Fielding
Application deadline: Wednesday 2 June 2021
Interview date: Tuesday 8 June 2021
Start date: 1 October 2021

UCL Chemistry Department is offering a fully funded studentship to a highly motivated candidate to start October 2021.  The student will carry out his/her doctoral research at UCL.

A detailed understanding of how molecular structure and biological environment control the brightness and colour modulation of bioluminescence emitters will enable us to design new probes for advanced imaging applications. There is an urgent need for bright, multicoloured, near-infrared emitting tools for improved in vivo tissue penetration and new multiparametric analytical/imaging techniques for a wide range of applications. However, our fundamental understanding is still rudimentary and most modifications to existing systems rely on empirical optimisations. The aim of this project is to characterise the electronic and structural relaxation processes that determine the molecular brightness of bioluminescence imaging probes and correlate these processes with the emission properties. The project builds on recent work in our group and forms part of an interdisciplinary feedback loop between spectroscopy, computational chemistry and synthesis. It will exploit new instrumentation in the newly established ESPRC-funded femtosecond laser facility in the UCL Photon Science Hub. Specifically, it will employ gas-phase time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy (TRPES) to characterise the electronic structure of isolated bioluminescence emitters, transient absorption spectroscopy (TEAS) to unravel the ultrafast electronic relaxation dynamics in aqueous solution and in natural biological environments and femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS) to monitor the structural changes that accompany electronic relaxation. Using this combination of tools will allow us to build a detailed understanding of the electronic and nuclear relaxation dynamics which will be key for the rational design and synthesis of new bioluminescence emitters.

Applicants should have, or be expecting to achieve, a first- or upper second-class Honours degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics or other relevant discipline. 

Interested candidates should initially contact Professor Helen Fielding (h.h.fielding@ucl.ac.uk) with a degree transcript and a motivation letter expressing interest in this project. Informal inquiries are encouraged. Suitable applicants should complete an electronic application form at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply. They will be invited for the interview no more than 4 weeks after the application deadline. Any admissions queries should be directed to Dr Jadranka Butorac at j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk.

Applications are welcome from UK nationals, EU students with settled/pre-settled status and students with indefinite leave to remain or enter. The updated rules for eligibility for home fees for next year are available at View Website

Applications will be accepted until Wednesday 2 June 2021. 

A 4 year PhD studentship in quantum materials - discovery and properties  (D/L: 31/05/2021)

UCL Chemistry Department is seeking applicants for a fully funded 4-year studentship to start in September 2021. The successful candidate will carry out their doctoral research at UCL in the interdisciplinary group of Prof. Andrew Wills and will collaborate with other leading groups, such as those at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, and the Institut-Laue Langevin (Grenoble, France).

The central theme of this research project is the study of materials where the various magnetic interactions compete, and are said to be ‘frustrated’. This type of frustration is compounded in particular geometries, such as the kagome magnets, where the magnetic ions make up a lattice of vertex-sharing triangles. These magnetic materials are of great interest at they have been found to form exotic electronic states called ‘quantum spin liquids’ –fluctuating and disordered states that show characteristics of quantum entanglement at remarkably high temperatures. While interest in quantum spin liquids grew from attempts to understand high-temperature superconductivity, understanding their entanglement properties now makes them important to developing the field of quantum computing and in exploring new types of collective, ‘emergent’, behaviours.

Research into new types of quantum magnetic behaviour in this field is driven by the study of model materials. This project is based around the synthesis of new model quantum frustrated magnets and analysis of their crystal structures and magnetic properties. Techniques used depend on the material under study but typically include, solvothermal synthesis, X-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction, inelastic neutron spectroscopy, muon spectroscopy, synchrotron light scattering, and magnetometry.  The interdisciplinary nature of this research area means the project can adapt to the strengths of the successful applicant and applications from those interested in developing new computational techniques to analyse their data are welcome.

Typically, applicants should have completed, or are soon to complete, a relevant degree in Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science (e.g. Master’s degree) at a high level (e.g. 2.1 minimum or equivalent). Good communication skills (both presentation and writing skills in English), the ability to work safely, independently and in a team environment are essential. Candidates with a strong interest in solid-state chemistry or condensed matter physics are encouraged to apply. Previous experience in the synthesis of solid state is desirable but not essential.

UCL offers a world leading scientific environment in the heart of London. Interested candidates should initially contact the supervisor, Prof. Wills (a.s.wills@ucl.ac.uk) with a degree transcript, a covering letter and CV. Informal inquiries are encouraged. Suitable applicants should complete an electronic application form at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply. They will be invited for an online interview no more than 4 weeks after the application deadline. Any admissions queries should be directed to Dr. Jadranka Butorac at j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk.

Applications will be accepted until 31st May 2021. 

The studentship provides 4 years fees (home rate) and a stipend at the UCL EPSRC DTP enhanced rate (£18,609 in 2021/22, rises with inflation each year).
Successful international students will also receive a UCL tuition fee support award to cover the additional overseas fees. Applications for part-time study (minimum 50% full-time equivalent) are welcomed – stipend payment and duration will be adjusted pro-rata.

The updated rules for eligibility for home fees for next year are available at View Website

A 3-year PhD studentship in electrochemical potassium storage  (D/L: 31/05/2021)

Supervisor: Dr Yang Xu
Application deadline: May 31st, 2021
Start date: September 27th, 2021

UCL Chemistry Department is offering a fully funded three-year studentship to a highly motivated candidate to start in September 2021. The student will carry out his/her doctoral research under the supervision of Dr Yang Xu and have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at UCL and internationally.

Batteries beyond the material supply and performance limitation of Li-ion technology are essential for providing solutions of large-scale energy storage and accelerating the market penetration of electric vehicles. The project will develop exciting next generation of energy storage technologies that are built on K battery chemistry. We will look at enhancing the performance of K-ion batteries through discovering and designing new electrode materials and investigating structural defects, particularly at local atomic and nanometric scales. New synthetic protocols will be developed, and a suite of characterisation tools (ex-situ and in-situ) will be utilised to understand the structural defect-battery performance relationship. The obtained understanding will be applied to Na-ion battery electrode materials, which provides insights into the comparison between Na and K battery chemistries. This project will suit someone who has an enthusiasm and drive for research in battery and energy storage technologies. Some experience in wet chemistry synthesis and electrochemical characterisation would be useful but not essential as training and guidance in these techniques will be given.

The applicants should have, or be expecting to achieve, a first or upper second-class Honours degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, or a related subject. 

Interested candidates should initially contact supervisor Dr Yang Xu (y.xu.1@ucl.ac.uk, Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=0rjWUboAAAAJ&hl=en) with a detailed CV, a degree transcript and a motivation letter expressing interest and relevant skills in this project. Informal inquiries are encouraged. Suitable candidates should complete an electronic application form at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply. They will be invited for the interview no more than 2 weeks after the application deadline. Any admissions queries should be directed to Dr Jadranka Butorac (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk).

Due to the nature of the funding, only students who are eligible for home fees status can apply. The updated rules for eligibility for home fees for next year are available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/fees-and-funding/pay-your-fees/fee-schedules/student-fee-status

Applications will be accepted until May 31st, 2021.

A 3-year PhD studentship in precursor synthesis (D/L: 31/05/2021)

Supervisor: Dr Caroline E. Knapp
Application deadline: 31st May 2021
Interview date: June 2021
Start date: 27th September 2021

UCL Chemistry Department is offering a fully funded studentship to a highly motivated candidate to start in September 2021.  The student will carry out their doctoral research at UCL.
The chemistry of the main group elements has advanced considerably since the turn of the century and now we turn our focus to application of these interesting molecules as precursors to functional materials. Your project will systematically study molecular main group compounds and probe their suitability as precursors. The PhD research will involve the synthesis and characterisation of molecular main group compounds, the design and synthesis of suitable ligand systems and their application in materials chemistry, particularly inkjet printing of metallic features. During your project, you will use Schlenk line and glove box techniques for compound handling and various techniques such as multinuclear NMR spectroscopy for compound characterisation. UCL Chemistry provide an excellent research infrastructure and operates a wide range of state-of-the-art characterisation equipment.
Please visit our group website for more details about our research: https://knappresearchgroup.wixsite.com/knappresearchgroup
Typically, applicants must have completed, or are soon to complete, a relevant chemistry degree (e.g. Master’s degree) at a high level (e.g. 2.1 minimum or equivalent). Good communication skills (both presentation and writing skills in English), the ability to work safely, independently and in a team environment, as well as a strong interest in main group chemistry are essential. Previous experience in the handling and characterisation of air and moisture sensitive compounds is desirable but not essential.
UCL offers a world leading scientific environment in the heart of London. Interested candidates should initially contact the supervisor, Dr Knapp (caroline.knapp@ucl.ac.uk) with a degree transcript, a covering letter and CV. Informal inquiries are encouraged. Suitable applicants should complete an electronic application form at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply. They will be invited for the interview no more than 4 weeks after the application deadline. Any admissions queries should be directed to Dr Jadranka Butorac at j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk.

Due to the nature of the funding, only students who are eligible for home fees status can apply. The updated rules for eligibility for home fees for next year are available at View Website

Applications will be accepted until 31st May 2021. 

A 3-year PhD studentship in Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Jet Assisted Manufacture Electrocatalytic Materials (D/L:31/07/2021)

Supervisors: Prof. Daren Caruana (UCL), Dr. Albertus Denny Handoko (IMRE, A*STAR, Singapore)
Application deadline: 31 July 2021
Start Date: 27 September 2021
Location: London (1.5 years), Singapore (2 years)
Subject areas: Catalysts, Plasma Jet, Synthesis, Chemical modification.  

The Studentship
This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent in IMRE of A*STAR in Singapore. The studentship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate, and an annual stipend of no less than £17,285 increasingly annually with inflation (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student a one-off relocation allowance.

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship only opens to UK nationals, EU nationals with settled/pre-settled status. Please note that we are currently seeking clarity from the Department for Education on how EU students with pre-settled and settled status will be considered in terms of fee status as the studentship only covers home fees.

The Project
A major bottleneck of underpinning the fabrication of batteries, electrolysers, photovoltaics, and electrocatalytic reactors development today is the lack of simple and accessible means to deposit metal alloys with great control over its composition and physical dimensions. In this regard, techniques that enables systematic deposition of metal alloys with controllable composition are of great interest. The ability to print and pattern of multi-materials in a single step process with high adhesion onto virtually any substrates is an essential process for many high value devices.

In this project, the ultimate aim will be to explore a method for single step synthesis of multi-materials on a variety of substrates to be tested as electrocatalysts for a variety of applications including CO2 conversion.  Broadly, the training in plasma jet synthesis will be provided at UCL in the laboratory of Prof Caruana. Later, the testing of the materials as electrocatalysts will be done in Singapore in the laboratory of Dr. Handoko.

The Candidate
The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a 1st or 2:1 class integrated Masters degree (MEng, MSci, MChem etc.) or equivalent in chemistry or materials science. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided. Please contact Prof Daren Caruana (d.j.caruana@ucl.ac.uk) or Dr. Albertus Denny Handoko (adhandoko@imre.a-star.edu.sg) for further details or to express an interest.

Applications will be accepted until 31 July 2021, but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

A 3-year PhD studentship in Development of conducting organometal halide perovskite for energy harvesting application (D/L:31/07/2021)

Supervisors: Professor Robert Palgrave (UCL), Dr. Dexter Tam (IMRE, A*STAR, Singapore)
Application deadline: 31 July 2021
Start Date: 27 September 2021
Location: London (1.5 years), Singapore (2 years)
Subject areas: perovskite solar cells, materials chemistry, solid state chemistry

The Studentship
This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent in IMRE of A*STAR in Singapore. The studentship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate, and an annual stipend of no less than £17,285 increasingly annually with inflation (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance.
Due to funding restrictions, this studentship only opens to UK nationals, EU nationals with settled/pre-settled status. Please note that we are currently seeking clarity from the Department for Education on how EU students with pre-settled and settled status will be considered in terms of fee status as the studentship only covers home fees.

The Project
Objective To synthesize and characterize novel conducting organometal halide perovskite (OMH) perovskite for energy harvesting applications via the use of organic radical cations.
Project Description The explosive growth of organometal halide perovskite (OMH) perovskite research led by the success in solar cells has triggered much fundamental work on their properties and other possible applications. One of the interesting areas is doping of OMH perovskite to increase its electrical conductivity. This has the potential to eliminate the need of hole/electron transporting layer (thereby simplifying device structure and reducing cost) and/or also improve the performance in OMH perovskite solar cells/phototransistors. Conducting OMH perovskite may also find applications in thermoelectrics.

Doping of OMH perovskite via metal substitution or interstitial doping is challenging as few ions can successfully be incorporated into the halide perovskite structure. Surface doping such as using cobaltcene has also been explored and has led to a current record conductivity of 10-4 S cm-1, as compared to 10-8 S cm-1 for pristine film. In recently obtained results, we have successfully doped MAPbI3 using an organic radical cation that resulted in conductivity as high as 10-2 S cm-1. We believe the organic radical cation partially substitutes the methylammonium (MA+) cation on the surface of the film to introduce a half-filled band that leads to the observed high conductivity. In this project, the successful candidate will build on this work, and explore the use of radial organic cations for surface modification of halide perovskites and related materials. The project will involve solid state and thin film synthesis, characterisation of materials using techniques like XRD, Raman, SEM, TEM, optical spectroscopy, transport measurements, and device characterisation.

The Candidate
The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a 1st or 2:1 class integrated Masters degree (MEng, MSci, MChem etc.) or equivalent in Chemistry, materials science, or a closely related discipline. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.

Please contact Prof Robert Palgrave (r.palgrave@ucl.ac.uk) for further details or to express an interest.
Applications will be accepted until 31 July 2021 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

A 3-year PhD studentship in Computational Prediction of Novel Thermoelectric Semiconductors (D/L:31/07/2021)

Supervisors: Professor David O. Scanlon (UCL), Dr Michael B. Sullivan (IHPC, A*STAR, Singapore), Professor Kedar Hippalgaonkar (IMRE, A*STAR, Singapore
Application deadline: 31 July 2021
Start Date: 27 September 2021
Location: London (1.5 years), Singapore (2 years)
Subject areas: Computational Materials Chemistry, Materials Science

The Studentship

This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent in IHPC of A*STAR in Singapore. The Studentship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate, and an annual stipend of no less than £17,285 increasingly annually with inflation (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance.

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship only opens to UK nationals, EU nationals with settled/pre-settled status. Please note that we are currently seeking clarity from the Department for Education on how EU students with pre-settled and settled status will be considered in terms of fee status as the studentship only covers home fees.

Objective To use state-of-the-art computational chemistry to predict the performance of novel semiconductors for thermoelectric energy generation

The Project As the global demand for energy grows inexorably, renewable energy production is becoming increasingly important. Thermoelectrics (TEs) allows us to convert heat (temperature differences) directly into energy using a phenomenon called the Seebeck Effect. Heat to electricity conversion in thermoelectric systems will play an important role in future energy generation and efficiency. Existing and potential applications of thermoelectric systems include: industrial waste heat recovery; transport heat recovery; radioisotope power systems; space exploration; cooling optoelectronic components; mass-market refrigeration; heat sensors.

In this project we will use computational techniques to understand the defect chemistry and thermal transport properties of a range of potential thermoelectric materials in the Materials Theory Group (www.davidscanlon.com) at UCL, and at IHPC (https://www.a-star.edu.sg/ihpc) at A*STAR, and our computational predictions will feed into the Accelerated Materials Development for Manufacturing Programme at IMRE A*STAR led by Professor Hippalgaonkar. (https://kedarh.wixsite.com/nanotransport).

The Candidate

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a 1st or 2:1 class integrated Masters degree (MEng, MSci, MChem etc.) or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or a closely related discipline. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in Computational Chemistry/Physics and/or coding is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.   

Please contact Professor David Scanlon (d.scanlon@ucl.ac.uk)) for further details or to express an interest.

Applications will be accepted until 31 July 2021 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

A 3-year PhD studentship in deep-learning assisted in silico design of active materials for targeted delivery (D/L:31/07/2021)

Supervisors: Dr Giorgio Volpe (UCL), Dr Yuan Cheng (IHPC, A*STAR, Singapore)
Application deadline: 31 July 2021
Start Date: 27 September 2021
Location: London (1.5 years), Singapore (2 years)
Subject areas: deep learning, soft matter, active matter, targeted delivery, self-assembly, biosensing, computational sciences

The Studentship
This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent at the A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore. The studentship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate, and an annual stipend of no less than £17,285 increasingly annually with inflation (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance.

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship only opens to UK nationals, EU nationals with settled/pre-settled status. Please note that we are currently seeking clarity from the Department for Education on how EU students with pre-settled and settled status will be considered in terms of fee status as the studentship only covers home fees.

The Project
For over a decade now, the soft matter research community has been fascinated with creating small particles that are capable of autonomous motion at the microscopic and nanoscopic scale. The drive for this is the hope to engineer micro- and nanocarriers that can perform complex operations and tasks at the microscale. One of the most promising tasks is the possibility to realize tiny biocompatible agents that can navigate the human body autonomously to deliver cargoes, such as drugs or genetic material, in a targeted way, thus significantly improving on state-of-the art delivery and biosensing technologies. Despite extensive research, including recent advances from our group, this task still remains elusive to date. The aim of this collaborative project is to develop an efficient computational framework for the in-silico design of self-propelling microscopic particles that can autonomously navigate towards a biological target and bind to receptors expressed on it relying on selective and reversible DNA-based chemical binding schemes. In order to achieve this goal, we will use different numerical techniques (e.g. Brownian dynamics and deep-learning approaches with neural networks) to realize efficient materials modeling and design.

The Candidate
The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a 1st or 2:1 class integrated Masters degree (MEng, MSci, MChem etc.) or equivalent in Computational Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Engineering or a related discipline. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, excellent programming skills (in C++, Matlab, Python or equivalent) and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided. 

Please contact Dr Giorgio Volpe (g.volpe@ucl.ac.uk) or Dr Yuan Cheng (chengy@ihpc.a-star.edu.sg) for further details or to express an interest. Include a CV, the contact details of two referees and a cover letter explaining your interest in the position.

Applications will be accepted until 31 July 2021 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

Resources:

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Departmental Graduate Tutor
Professor Jim C. Anderson
Email: j.c.anderson@ucl.ac.uk

For all PGR enquiries contact:
Email: doctoral.chem@ucl.ac.uk